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SSP Geotechnics Sdn Bhd

Design and Construction Considerations for Deep Excavation


By: S.S. Gue & Y.C. Tan September, 1998
Page 1

DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION CONSIDERATIONS
FOR DEEP EXCAVATION.
By: S.S. Gue & Y.C. Tan
SSP Geotechnics Sdn Bhd


1.0 INTRODUCTION

In Malaysia, deep basements have been extensively constructed, especially in the last 5 years, to
effectively utilise the underground space for car parks and other usage in the expensive and
congested urban area. The deepest excavation for basement that has been completed to date is
28.5m and is in Kuala Lumpur. Lately, there were a number of failures of support system or retaining
wall used for deep excavation. The failures of the retaining wall or support system can be
catastrophic affecting the serviceability of adjacent structures. This paper presents, in a selective
way, the design and construction considerations for deep excavation. The commonly occurred
mistakes and carelessness are also highlighted. Finally a case history describing the influence of
excavation on the surrounding structures is presented and discussed.



2.0 DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS

In this paper, the major design considerations for deep excavation is divided into five sections as
follows :
(a) Planning of subsurface investigation and laboratory testing.
(b) Evaluation of foundation of adjacent properties and their tolerances.
(c) Selection of type of retaining wall.
(d) Selection of type of support system.
(e) Design of retaining wall.

It is imperative that preliminary analyses be carried out for many options of the walls and support
systems to assess on the cost and time of construction together with the technical requirements on
the safety and its influence on the adjacent structures before the selection on the final option to
produce safe and economical design.

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Design and Construction Considerations for Deep Excavation
By: S.S. Gue & Y.C. Tan September, 1998
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2.1 PLANNING OF SUBSURFACE INVESTIGATION AND
LABORATORY TESTING

As stated in BS8002:1994 Code of practice for earth retaining structures, sufficient information
should be obtained on the ground and ground water conditions together with the strength and
deformation properties of the soils which will be retained and the soils which will support the earth
retaining structures. Geological maps memoirs and handbooks should be consulted together with
any other source of local knowledge. Proper planning and supervision of subsurface investigation
(S.I.) and laboratory testing is utmost important for the designer to produce safe and economical
design for the deep basement construction. For the selection of geotechnical parameters for
design of retaining walls, reference can be made to Gue (1997 & 1998) and CIRIA Report 104
(1984).



2.1.1 Field Tests

The code of practice for site investigation BS5930:1981 describes the general
considerations to be taken into account and details the methods of site investigation
available. Generally, a number of boreholes should be adequate to establish the ground
conditions along the length of the wall and to ascertain the variability in those conditions.
Piezocone tests would complement the boreholes particularly in sedimentary loose or soft
deposits. For a large site, geophysical survey would be an advantage to optimise the
subsurface investigation.

Prior to planning of S.I., it is important to acquire the geology formation of the site. The
geological information of all states in Malaysia can be purchased from Geological
Department of Malaysia. As recommended in BS8002:1994, the centres between
boreholes will vary from site to site but should generally be at intervals of 10m to 50m
along the length of the wall depending on the complexity of the geology, subsoil profile and
adjacent structures. Some times, subsurface investigation outside the site should be
carried out especially around the sensitive adjacent structures. In addition, dilapidation
survey of the adjacent structures should also be carried out as required by local authorities
and assessment of the effect due to the deep excavation as described in details in
Sections 3.1 and 2.2 respectively.

In Malaysia, the most common field test carried out for design of retaining wall comprises
of rotary wash boring (borehole) and includes Standard Penetration Tests (SPT),
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Design and Construction Considerations for Deep Excavation
By: S.S. Gue & Y.C. Tan September, 1998
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Pressuremeter tests, collection of disturbed and undisturbed soil sampling for laboratory
testing. If the site is underlain by soft clayey material, field tests such as piezocone tests,
in-situ penetrating vane or vane shear tests in the borehole are commonly required. The
details on the selection of suitable field tests for various types of subsoil of different
geological history can refer to Gue (1997a), Geoguide 2 published by Geotechnical
Control Office of Hong Kong in 1993.

In deep excavation design, an adequate knowledge of the ground water levels, seepage
pressures and information on the existence of any hydrostatic uplift pressures are
essential. Preliminary ground water conditions may be predictable from a knowledge of
the local geology. Standpipies or piezometers should be installed in the drilled boreholes
to determine and confirm the ground water conditions at site. It should be noted that
water levels encountered during boring operations where water is used as a flushing
medium are unreliable and seldom represent equilibrium conditions.

Sealing of the boreholes after completion is also important to prevent collapse of the soil
causing loosening of the subsoil. Holes left open also pose a safety treat to human and
animals. Boreholes in area with potential blow-out of ground water when carrying out
excavation also need to be carefully sealed. Usually grout is used to seal the hole.



2.1.2 Laboratory Tests

Laboratory tests that are usually carried out in Malaysia on disturbed and undisturbed soil
samples collected from the boreholes and are summarised as follows :
(a) Particles size distribution like sieve analysis including clay and silt separation using
hydrometer
(b) Atterberg limits tests to determine liquid limit, plastic limit and plasticity index.
(c) Test to determine moisture content, porosity, unit weight, specific gravity.
(d) Chemical tests on pH, chloride, sulphate and organic content.
(e) Shear strength tests like Unconsolidated Undrained Triaxial Test (UU), Isotropically
Consolidated Undrained Triaxial Test with pore water pressure measurements,
Unconfined Compression Test (UCT), etc.
(f) Consolidation test.
(g) Test on rock cores using UCT for strength and strain gauges can be attached to the
rock sample to measure modulus of the rock from the test.
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Design and Construction Considerations for Deep Excavation
By: S.S. Gue & Y.C. Tan September, 1998
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2.2 EVALUATION OF FOUNDATIONS OF ADJACENT PROPERTIES
AND THEIR TOLERANCES

Major concern during the planning and execution of deep excavation is the impact of construction
related to ground movements on the adjacent properties and utilities. During excavation, the state
of stresses in the ground mass around the excavation changes. The most common changes in
stresses in the retained side are the stress relieve on the excavation face resulting in horizontal
ground movement and follows by vertical movement for equilibrium and increase in vertical stress
due to lowering of water table resulting in both immediate and consolidation settlement of the
ground. These ground movements that vary away from the excavation can cause buildings,
especially those on shallow foundation, to translate, rotate, deform, distort and finally sustain
damage if the magnitude exceeded the tolerable limits as shown in Figure 1.

It is important to carry out analyses to estimate the magnitude and distribution of the ground
movements due to the proposed excavation. Section 2.5 of this paper on Serviceability Limit
States summarises some of the methods to predict deformation of the retained ground due to an
excavation. The tolerance of the structures and utilities to the deformations and distortions
sustained as a result of the ground movements should also be evaluated.

Building Damage due to Ground Movements
Structural damage affecting the stability structure is usually related to cracks or distortions in
primary support elements such as beams, columns, and load bearing walls. Table 1 presents the
classification system that provides a defined framework for the evaluation of the damages.

There are many approaches to address the subject of building damage due to ground movements.
Usually, a simple and conservative method, which is the empirical approach, is needed in the
preliminary assessment. Figure 2 shows the symbols and definitions of foundation movement
normally used. This paper will only briefly elaborate simple empirical approach. For more rigorous
and extensive methods, reference can be made to Boone (1996), Boscardin et al. (1989) and
Poulos & Chen (1997).

Empirical Method
Skempton & MacDonald (1956) indentify a basis on which to determine allowable total and
differential foundation settlement. Guidance for design has been largely based on their work and
shown in Table 2. There are three important points to be noted in their studies:
(a) Confined to traditional mill-type steel-framed industrial buildings, reinforced-concrete framed
buildings with traditional cladding, and some load bearing masonry wall buildings.
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Design and Construction Considerations for Deep Excavation
By: S.S. Gue & Y.C. Tan September, 1998
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(b) The criterion for limiting deformation was the angular distortion or relative rotation as shown in
Figure 2.
(c) No classification of degree of architectural or visible damage was used.

Meyerhof (1956) and Polshin & Tokar (1957) recognise that unreinforced load bearing walls have a
different mode of deformation from that of framed structures and recommended that the deflection
ration /L to be used as stated in Table 2.



2.3 SELECTION OF TYPE OF RETAINING WALL

Selections of retaining wall type and support system are usually made on the basis of :
(a) Foundation of adjacent properties and services
(b) Designed limits on wall and retained ground movements
(c) Subsoil conditions and ground water level
(d) Working space requirements and site constraints
(e) Cost and time of construction
(f) Flexibility of the layout of the permanent works
(g) Local experience and available construction plant
(h) Maintenance of the wall and support system in permanent condition

The commonly used retaining wall types in Malaysia to support excavations as shown in Figure 3
are :
(a) sheet pile wall
(b) soldier pile wall (soldier piles and horizontal lagging)
(c) contiguous bored piles wall
(d) secant piles wall
(e) diaphragm wall



2.3.1 Sheet Pile Wall

Sheet pile wall is commonly used as temporary retaining wall system in Malaysia. The
suitability of sheet pile to be used in basement construction is generally influenced by the
following factors :


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Design and Construction Considerations for Deep Excavation
By: S.S. Gue & Y.C. Tan September, 1998
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(a) Soil conditions and the ease of pile installation :
The subsoil must allow the sheetpile to be easily driven in with Standard Penetration
Test (SPT) N values lower than 50 or else it would be difficult to achieve the required
penetration. The selection of sheet pile to be used would depend on the requirement s
of the flexural strength and strength to resist driving. Driving of sheet piles in loose
sandy soils can also result in settlements in adjacent ground.

(b) Depth of excavation :
Sheet pile is usually suitable for shallow excavation and as temporary works due to its
lower stiffness compared to other types of retaining wall such as diaphragm wall,
contiguous bored piles or secant piles.

(c) Watertightness :
Some seepage is expected to pass through the interlocking steel sheet piling if there is a
difference in hydraulic head.

(d) Ability to withdraw temporary sheet pile after used :
It would be more economical if extraction of any of the temporary sheet piles is allowed.
However, extraction causes vibration unless silent piler is used and also lateral soil
movement when the void created during extraction collapses.




2.3.2 Soldier Pile Walls (Soldier Piles and Horizontal Lagging)

Soldier pile wall has two major components; soldier piles (vertical component) and lagging
(horizontal component). Soldier piles usually consist of steel H sections and are driven to
maintained in full contact with the soil. Its installation resistance is quite similar to the sheet
pile. Soldier piles provide the primary support to the retained soil, and lagging serves as a
secondary support to the soil face. Lagging prevents progressive deterioration of the soil
arching between piles.

In Malaysia, soldier pile wall is normally used for small shallow excavation in stiff soils and in
soils above ground water table as temporary support. Soldier pile wall is not suitable for soft
clays and loose sands.



SSP Geotechnics Sdn Bhd
Design and Construction Considerations for Deep Excavation
By: S.S. Gue & Y.C. Tan September, 1998
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2.3.3 Contiguous Bored Piles Wall

Contiguous bored piles wall can be both temporary or permanent wall for excavation.
Usually contiguous bored piles wall is used in stiff soil and lower water table. The
advantages of contiguous bored piles wall are lower cost and speed in construction for
temporary or permanent wall where drilling conditions are conducive. The system has
higher capacity to overcome obstructions like rock compared to other system. However
additional works are needed to form an acceptable surface to the wall.



2.3.4 Secant Piles Wall

The major disadvantage of contiguous bore piles walls which is the lack of watertightness
has been effectively overcome by interlocking as in secant piles wall. Other than
watertightness, secant piles wall has similar advantages and disadvantages as contiguous
bored piles wall. This method consists of boring and concreting primary piles, at centre to
centre spacing of slightly less than twice the nominal pile diameter, Secondary piles are
then bored at mid-distance between the primary piles before the concrete has achieved its
full strength. Reinforcement is usually concentrated in secondary piles. The main
advantage of the secant pile is the possible full temporary protection in sensitive and
collapsible soils and ease of coring into rock.



2.3.5 Diaphragm Wall

Diaphragm wall is commonly used in Malaysia as a permanent wall system. Diaphragm
wall offers most efficient watertightness compared to other wall types. Similar to
contiguous bored piles and secant piles wall, diaphragm wall construction also causes
minimum noise and vibration disturbance. However, it is not suitable for highly collapsible
soil during trenching.






SSP Geotechnics Sdn Bhd
Design and Construction Considerations for Deep Excavation
By: S.S. Gue & Y.C. Tan September, 1998
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2.4 SELECTION OF SUPPORT SYSTEM

The above retaining wall types can be further divided into following three major categories
according to the form of support provided as shown in Figure 4:
(a) cantilevered or unbraced wall (usually for shallow excavation)
(b) strutted or braced wall
(c) tied-back or anchored wall

Table 3, from Institution of Structural Engineers (1975), lists the advantages and disadvantages of
each support system and shall be read in conjunction with Figure 4(a) to 4(m). The factors
involved in the selection of a support system for a deep excavation as suggested in Navfac Design
Manual 7.2 by US Navy (1982) are summarised in Table 4.

Other than the factors listed above, it is very important to note that although most of the time
ground anchor support system looks very attractive with unobstructed excavation in centre of the
site, there are some major factors that should be considered by the Engineer prior to adopting the
system :
(a) Permanent ground anchors always pose great problem in maintenance in long term. Refer
BS8081:1989 for details.
(b) If the local authorities require temporary ground anchors to be removed after use, then
removal of temporary ground anchors may pose some problems if the system has not been
proven at site to be fully removable.
(c) Approval from the adjacent owners should be acquired if there is encroachment of ground
anchors into adjacent properties
(d) Leakages and loss of fine through drill holes need additional precautionary measures in the
construction.



2.5 DESIGN OF RETAINING WALL

In the design of earth retaining system for deep excavation, it requires both ultimate limit states and
serviceability limit states to be considered. An ultimate limit state of a structure is deemed to have
been reached when sufficient parts of the structure, the soil around it, or both have yield to result in
the formation of a failure mechanism in the ground or severe damage in the principal structural
components. A serviceability limit state of a structure is deemed to have been reached with the
onset of excessive deformation or deterioration. Figure 5 shows some of the possible failure
mechanisms of retaining wall. Other than the limit states need to be addressed, the short term
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Design and Construction Considerations for Deep Excavation
By: S.S. Gue & Y.C. Tan September, 1998
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(usually undrained for cohesive materials) and long term (drained) behaviour of the subsoil need to
be considered in the design.

The check on the ultimate limit states of the wall includes check on the following :
(i) Overall Stability : the provision of sufficient embedment depth to prevent overturning
of the wall and overall slope stability.
(ii) Basal Failure : the wall penetration depth must be sufficient to prevent basal failure
in front of the wall after excavation to formation level.
(iii) Hydraulic Failure : the penetration of the wall must be sufficient to avoid piping or blow
out in front of the wall after excavation to formation level.

Other than the modes of failure stated above, the external forces acting on the walls and supports
also need to be evaluated in the design and some of them are illustrated in Figure 5.

The serviceability limit state is to be considered in terms of wall and soil deformation at the rear of the
wall. Usually the check on the serviceability limit state is carried out using computer program. There
are also some empirical or semi-empirical methods to predict the deformation of the wall and
retained soil. Special care should be given to control of ground water level in the retained ground in
the design because lowering of ground water level would increase settlement and induce damages
to the adjacent structures and services.



2.5.1 Overall Stability

The overall stability of both retaining walls is often evaluated using limit equilibrium methods
of analysis in which the conditions of failure are postulated, and a factor of safety is applied
to prevent its occurrence. There are a number of ways of applying the factor of safety for the
overall stability. They are :

(a) Factor on embedment :
A factor of safety is applied to calculate embedment depth at limiting equilibrium. The
method is described in the US Steel Sheet Piling Design Manual (United States Steel
Corporation, 1975), the British Steel Corporation Pilling Handbook (1988) and by
Symons (1983).




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(b) Factor on moments of gross pressure :
This method applies a factor of safety to moments of gross pressure on the passive side
only. Water pressure is not factored. The method is described in NAVFAC Design
Manual 7.2 by US Navy (1982).

(c) Factors on moments of net total pressure :`
The net horizontal pressure distribution acting on the wall is calculated and the factor of
safety is defined as the ratio of moments of the net passive and active forces.

(d) Factors on net passive resistance or Potts and Burland Method :
Developed by Potts and Burland (1983) and is analogous to the calculation of the
bearing capacity for a strip load. This method defines the factor of safety as the ratio of
the moment of the net available passive resistance to the moment activated by the
retained material including water and surcharge.

(e) Factors on shear strength on both active and passive sides :
Soil shear strengths are reduced by dividing c and tan by factor of safety, and the
active and passive pressure diagrams are calculated using these reduced values. The
reduced values approximate to mobilised values. Bending moments and prop loads
derived from the calculation can be used for wall design if they are treated as ultimate
limit state values. This method is recommended in BS8002, 1994.

(f) Factor on shear strength of passive side only :
The passive resistance is factored but no factor is applied to the active side.

The GCO Publication No. 1/90 titled Review of Design Methods for Excavation published
by Geotechnical Control Office of Hong Kong in 1990 has presented some useful
observations on the different methods and they are as follows:
(a) The factor on embedment is empirical and should be checked by applying a second
method.
(b) The method of factoring moments on gross pressure may give excessive penetration at
low angles of shearing resistance, so use varying factors for different ranges of .
(c) The factoring of net passive pressure moments tends to give high penetration values.
(d) The factors on modified net passive resistance as recommended by Burland and Potts
(1983) appear to give consistent results in a reasonable range of soils and wall
dimensions.

CIRIA Report 104 Design of Retaining Walls Embedded in Stiff Clay by Padfield and Mair
(1984) has recommended some factors of safety for use in stiff clays with the above
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methods and are listed in Table 5. Although applying to stiff clays, the factors of safety can
also be used as indicative values in granular soils and residual soils.

For cantilever and single prop walls, particularly on sloping sites in soft clays and loose
granular soils, deep-seated slip failure (slope stability failure) also needs to be evaluated.



2.5.2 Basal Heave Failure

Usually base failure to an excavation by upward heave applies particularly in very soft and
soft clays and silty clays. Stiff soils less prone to encounter this problem. The basal heave
failure is analogous to a bearing capacity failure, only in reverse being that stresses in the
ground are relieved instead of increased.

There are many methods to examine the basal heave failure and may be broadly divided
according to basic concepts such as those based on bearing capacity formulae and those
based on examination of moment equilibrium. It is recommended that in the design, both
methods are to be used for basal heave check.

Method based on Bearing Capacity Formulae :
The methods based on bearing capacity formulae are presented by Terzaghi (1943) for
shallow and wide excavation, whereas that by Bjerrum & Eide (1956) is suitable for deep
and narrow excavations. Both methods neglect the effect of wall penetration below
foundation level and results may be conservative especially where stiffer clays exist with
depth. Figure 6 shows the details of above two methods. For completeness, the methods
for calculating factors of safety against basal heave in cohesionless soils, cuts in clay of
considerable depth and cuts in clay limited by hard stratum as described in NAVFAC Design
Manual 7.2 (1982) are presented in Figure 7. Generally the factor of safety against basal
heave failure should not be less than 1.5.

Method based on Moment Equilibrium :
The methods to evaluate basal heave failure based on examination of moment equilibrium
are described in J apanese Codes such as Architectural Institute of J apan (1988 Revision 1)
and J apan Society of Civil Engineers (1986 Revision 6). Figure 8 presents the summary of
the two moment equilibrium methods. In these methods, excavation width and excavation
length can not be taking into consideration but it is possible to include variations of shear
strength in the direction of depth. With the moment equilibrium methods, the factor of safety
is generally required to be not less than 1.2.
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2.5.3 Hydraulic Failure

For excavation at site with groundwater on the retained side exists above the base of the
excavation or under artesian pressure, analyses need to carried out to prevent hydraulic
failure. If the toe of the wall does not penetrate into an impermeable layer or to a sufficient
depth, instability of the base caused by piping occurs if the vertical seepage exit gradient at
the base of the excavation is equal to unity. Figures 9 and 10 present the design charts for
wall penetration required for various safety factors against heave or piping in isotropic sands
and in layered subsoil respectively as recommended in NAVFAC Design Manual 7.2 (1982).
Usually a safety factor of 1.5 to 2.0 is provided to prevent piping.

The boiling (piping) of the excavation base can also be checked using Terzaghis method
and the critical hydraulic gradient method that mainly consider vertical flow in the vicinity of
the excavation bottom. Figure 11(a) shows the summary of the above two methods. The
J apanese codes mostly suggest the use of Terzaghis method with factor of safety ranges
from 1.2 to 1.5 for temporary and permanent works respectively. For the critical hydraulic
gradient method, the suggested factor of safety is 2.0.

To prevent heaving due to artesian pressure, the equilibrium between overburden pressure
and pore water pressure at the top surface of confined aquifer (bottom surface of clayey soil)
need to be evaluated as shown in Figure 11(b) and usually factor of safety of 1.2 is sufficient.



2.5.4 Earth Pressures for Structural Design

For deep excavation, usually the multi-level supported walls are used instead of cantilever
or singly supported walls. The design requirements and analyses for multi-level supported
walls are different from cantilever or singly supported wall. The earth pressures that act on
multi-level strutted walls or multi-level tied-back walls depend on the wall stiffness relative
to the soil, the support spacing and the prestress load. The method of construction of
these walls is usually sequential, installing the wall and excavation in stages followed by
installation of support like anchor or prop at each installation stage. The available
methods for analysis and design of multi-level supported walls can be categorised as
follows :

(a) Empirical Methods :
Usually based on strut load envelopes recommended by Peck (1969) or Terzaghi and
Peck (1967) for three categories of soil: sands, soft to medium clays and stiff clays.
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(b) Computer Methods based on Winkler Spring Theory :
This method is sometimes called Beam-Spring Approaches.

(c) Full Soil-Structural Interaction Analysis :
Employ either Finite Element Method (FEM), Boundary Element Method or Finite
Difference Method.


(a) Empirical Methods

The strut load envelopes developed by Terzaghi & Peck (1967) are presented in Figure
12. These diagrams do not represent the actual earth pressure or its distribution with
depth, but load envelopes from which strut loads can be evaluated. Clay is assumed
undrained and only considers total stresses. Sands are assumed drained. If non-
permeable wall is used, hydrostatically distributed water pressure should be added to strut
loads. Wall can be designed using the Coulomb earth pressure distribution with
hydrostatic water pressure except full drainage occurs through the wall.

Gue and Tan (1998) observe that for anchored diaphragm walls in Kenny Hill residual soils
in Kuala Lumpur, the apparent lateral earth pressures that were obtained from the load
cells indicated that for anchors at depths greater than 60% of the maximum excavation
depth of more than 20m, the apparent earth pressure obtained is larger than the values
suggested by Terzaghi & Peck (1967).


(b) Beam Spring Approach

This method needs the help of computer program. The soil is either modelled by a set of
unconnected vertical and horizontal springs (Borin, 1989) or a set of linear elastic
interaction factors (Papin et al., 1985). This approach allows the deformation of the wall to
be predicted but can not calculate the deformation of the soil in front or behind the wall.
Props or anchors are modelled as simple springs.

An example of this type computer program widely used in Malaysia, is WALLAP (Borin,
1989) and a more sophisticated implementation is provided by FREW (Pappin et al.,
1986). The user is allowed to impose active or passive limits on the effective pressures
applied to the wall. Gue and Tan (1998) show that the ground anchor loads obtained from
analysis using computer program FREW are within 10% of the loads measured from the
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load cells installed at the anchor heads of diaphragm walls installed in Kenny Hill residual
soil, Kuala Lumpur.


(c) Soil-Structure Interaction Methods

This method will be able to model wall and soil deformation and stress in a realistic stages
of operations that follow actual construction sequence. Pre-judged failure modes are not
required in the analysis. This method can be carried out in two or three-dimensional
depending on the computer codes used. Usually two-dimensional is sufficient.

This method is particularly useful in predicting deformations of wall and soil for
serviceability checks especially there are deformation sensitive structures around the
excavation. Use of soil stiffness at low strain value is essential in this approach. Tan
(1997) has presented correlation to acquire the stiffness of Kenny Hill residual soils at low
strain.

Some of the computer packages in this category include Finite Element program CRISP-
90 (Britto and Gunn, 1987) and Plaxis, and the finite difference package FLAC (ITASCA,
1991).



2.5.5 Serviceability Limit States

Serviceability limit state check for retaining walls involves solution of soil-structures
interaction problems that require the use of deformation parameters and generally divided
into two major items:

(a) Deformation of Wall
The acceptable limits of the wall deformation will depend on the purpose of the
excavation and whether the works are temporary, permanent and the permissible
deformation of soil behind the wall.

(b) Deformation of Soil behind the Wall
Settlement and lateral movements of the soil behind wall must not exceed the
permitted deformation of surrounding buildings and services. The guide on the limiting
deformation of framed buildings, reinforced and unreinforced load bearing walls are
indicated in Table 2.
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Primary factors influencing the deformation of the wall and the retained ground are:
(a) Type of ground
(b) Depth and width of excavation
(c) Stability of the bottom of excavation
(d) Stiffness the support system and preload forces
(e) Rigidity of the wall.
(f) Construction technique

Finite element method (FEM) is most well suited to this type of deformation analysis,
however, FEM is too cumbersome and costly for general application and furthermore
accurate determination of the required soil parameters is also difficult. In view of this, the
magnitude and distribution of ground movements is generally considered based on
empirical method such as recorded case histories and often using collations such as
Clough and ORourke (1990) or methods suggested in by J apanese in Figure 13.

The first empirical method for estimating movements for in-situ wall system was proposed
by Peck (1969) as in Figure 14 from data compiled on settlement of the ground adjacent to
temporary braced sheet pile and soldier pile walls. Since then, there were improvement
and progress in control of movements with the use of updated design and construction
technologies.

Clough and ORourke (1990) present the settlement profile of retained soil for properly
designed and constructed excavation works using different retaining wall types and
support system, in different soil types as follows :

(a) Excavation in Sand :
Figure 15(a) summarises settlements for excavation in predominantly sand and
granular soils. The maximum settlements are typically less than 0.3% and extended
with decreasing values up to a distance of 2 times the maximum excavation depth.

(b) Excavation in Stiff to Very Hard Clays :
Settlements and horizontal movements for excavation sites in stiff to very hard clays
are summarised in Figure 15(b). The settlements are only a small percentage of
excavation depth, with maximum settlement usually less than 0.3%, but are distributed
over 3 times the excavation depth from the edge of the excavation. Generally the
average horizontal and vertical movements is about 0.2% and 0.15% of the depth of
excavation respectively

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(c) Excavation in Soft to Medium Clays :
Figure 15(c) shows the settlements for excavation in soft to medium clay. Zones
pertaining to various levels of workmanship and soil conditions as described by Peck
(1969) are also shown in this figure. Different from stiffer soils, basal stability
dominates deflections of the excavation in soft to medium clays. Mana and Clough
(1981) and Clough et al. (1989) defines movements in terms of factor of safety against
basal heave failure and take into consideration the influence of wall stiffness and
support spacing as shown in Figure 16. This chart (Figure 16) can be used to assist in
predicting maximum lateral wall movements in clayey soils. Generally for soft to
medium clays, the maximum settlement is equal to maximum horizontal wall
movement. However the chart should be used with caution when FOS is lower than
1.5.

Figure 17 presents dimensionless settlement profiles recommended by Clough and
ORourke (1990) as a basis for estimating vertical movement patterns adjacent to
excavations in different soil types. These diagrams only pertain to settlements caused
during excavation and bracing stages of construction. Settlement due to other activities,
such as dewatering, deep foundation removal or construction, and wall installation, should
be estimated separately.

Bearing in mind that all the empirical methods above are based from the experiences in
other countries. Therefore, they may not be relevant and should be used as a preliminary
estimate only. Local experiences where available should be referred. In Malaysia, for
example there has been cases of lowering of ground water table in the retained soil has
caused settlement and extended to more than those quoted above, and could be more
than 40 times the depth of excavation.



3.0 CONSTRUCTION CONSIDERATIONS

The complexity of the interaction between the ground and the retaining structures for deep
excavation sometimes make it difficult to predict the behaviour of a retaining structure in detail and
accurately before the actual execution of the works. Therefore, the involvement of design
engineer does not stop after designing the retaining structures. Instead, the design engineer
should closely supervise the construction works at site and review the performance of the retaining
structure and compare to the design requirements and predictions, and take necessary actions to
prevent the occurrence of the critical limit state like large displacement of the wall causing damage
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Design and Construction Considerations for Deep Excavation
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Page 17

to nearby structures or services. Observational Method proposed by Peck, (1969) is often
employed.

Major considerations to be taken during construction can be broadly divided into three major
sections as follows :
(a) Dilapidation survey of adjacent structures
(b) Instrumentation and monitoring program
(c) Supervision and construction control



3.1 DILAPIDATION SURVEY OF ADJACENT STRUCTURES

For deep excavation, dilapidation survey of adjacent structures is necessary to prevent
unnecessary contractual conflict or even lawsuit. Dilapidation survey also forms part of the
requirements by the local authorities. Dilapidation survey should be carried out prior to any
construction activities at the site.

Normally some of the adjacent structures, especially old buildings, may have already suffered
some cracks prior to construction activities at the site. Therefore, by carrying out dilapidation
survey, the developer, consultants, contractor and even the owners of adjacent structures will have
a clear picture of the conditions of the structures adjacent to the site. The dilapidation survey
report also serves as a reference for any claims by the owner of the adjacent properties on the
damages caused by the excavation (if any).

In most of the deep excavation, some movements of the retained ground is commonly expected.
The dilapidation survey should cover the area within and beyond the influence zone of the
excavation. The dilapidation survey should be thorough and with approval of the adjacent owners.
The dilapidation survey should also include the interior of the adjacent structures and settlement of
ground especially between suspended and non-suspended structures. If there are cracks on the
adjacent structures, the direction of the cracks, the dimension of the cracks like length, width of the
cracks should be measured and reported. Photographs should also be taken together with the
measuring equipment (measurement tape or ruler) and included in the report.





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Design and Construction Considerations for Deep Excavation
By: S.S. Gue & Y.C. Tan September, 1998
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3.2 INSTRUMENTATION AND MONITORING PROGRAM

In Malaysia, most of the sites requiring deep excavation are located in the urban area with all sides
either surrounded by roads, buildings or services. It is very important to have an effective
instrumentation and monitoring scheme to make sure that during excavation and construction of
the basement, the safety of the surrounding properties can be secured. The instrumentation and
monitoring scheme also allows the design engineer to validate the design and to identify the need
for remedial measures or alterations to the construction sequence before the serviceability of the
retaining structures or the surrounding buildings and services are affected. The instruments
particularly the ground settlement markers and piezometers should be extended beyond the
normally expected distance perpendicular away from the retaining wall.

For deep excavation, the commonly used instruments and their functions are as follows :
1. Inclinometers
The function of Inclinometer is to allow the deformation of the wall with depth to be
measured. Inclinometer access tubes are usually installed in the wall except in sheet pile
and soldier pile walls where they are usually installed in the subsoil immediately behind the
wall. If the inclinometers are installed in the retained soil behind the wall, the lateral
deformation of the subsoil with depth can be measured instead of direct measurement of
wall deformation. Usually the tubes are extended about 3m below the toe of the wall so
that the wall toe movements can be measured. From the deformation profile obtained
from inclinometers for each stage of excavation, the design engineer can validate the
design and to take early precautionary or remedial measures if the deformation of the wall
exceeds the design limit.

2. Piezometers or Standpipe Piezometers
Piezometer or standpipe piezometer allows the changes of the ground water level in the
subsoil to be monitored. It should be located in lines perpendicular to the wall to establish
the profile. Piezometer either pneumatic or vibrating wire type also allows sudden change
of pore water pressure in the subsoil to be measured. Changes of ground water level are
very important because lowering of ground water level would cause settlement of the
retained soil. On the other hand, rising of ground water unexpectedly to a level higher
than design value can cause additional lateral pressure leading to failure of retaining wall.

3. Settlement Markers / Displacement Markers
Settlement markers are installed on the ground in lines perpendicular to the wall to
establish the settlement of the ground surface profile using levelling. If lateral movements
of the ground surface need to be measured, displacement markers will be used and
surveyed using precision theodolite and electronic distance measurement (EDM).
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Sometimes, settlement markers or displacement markers are placed at the columns and
floors of surrounding buildings (usually for buildings on shallow foundation) or services to
measure the movements. Excessive settlement/lateral movement of the retained soil can
cause damage to the adjacent properties as described in Section 2.2.

4. Deep Extensometers
Deep extensometers allow the settlement or heave of the subsoil at different depths to be
measured. Deep extensometers sometimes are installed in the site to monitor the heaving
of the subsoil due to excavation and as an early indicator of base heave and to establish
differential base heave between podium and tower building of a project.

5. Load Cells
Load cells can be installed at the struts or anchors to measure the changes of load with
each stage of excavation. The measurement of the load will allow the design engineer to
validate the design of the support system and to ensure the support system functions
properly.

6. Tiltmeters
Tiltmeters sometimes are used to monitor the change in inclination (rotation) of structural
element. They are used in surrounding buildings that are sensitive to tilt as an early
warning system.

Practical monitoring program is essential to the success of the instrumentation and monitoring
scheme. For deep excavation, usually the monitoring of all instruments are carried out weekly. In
the area where activities like construction of the wall, bulk excavation in front of the wall, drilling of
ground anchor etc, the frequency of monitoring for the instruments at the affected area should be
increased to daily. If there is any sign of increasing wall movement, strut or ground anchor load
above the values designed, the frequency of monitor should be intensified to daily until the causes
identified and remedial measures carried out.



3.3 SUPERVISION AND CONSTRUCTION CONTROL

In order to ensure the quality of works and safety of the retaining wall for deep excavation, the
construction and workmanship shall be closely supervised. It is also a requirement of Uniform
Building By-Laws (1984) that the submitting person or his representatives shall supervise the
construction ensuring it complies to drawings, specification and use the approved method
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statement. Followings are some of the commonly encountered problems at site that requires close
supervision and construction control :

1. During the excavation or drilling of the wall, the construction records should clearly highlight
types of soils encountered, rock level (if any), any abnormalities like sudden drop of drilling
fluid or water gushing out (artesian). Design engineer has to review the records and confirm
the validity of the design assumptions like subsoil types, rock levels and water conditions.

2. Design engineer should review the monitoring records of the instruments and carry out
back-analysis to validate the design and also to check the performance of the wall as
described in Section 3.2.

3. During each stage of bulk excavation in front of the wall, the supervising engineer should
make sure that the Contractor follows the predetermined design level to prevent over
excavation deeper than the design level. Over-excavation increases additional stresses
resulting in the increase in wall movement and deformation of the retained soil. Excessive
over-excavation might even cause catastrophic failure of the wall.

4. Surcharging at the retained side of the wall should also be closely monitored. Extra
surcharge above the design value increases the soil pressure on the retained soils and
may cause increase in wall movement and even failures.

5. The drainage system of the excavated platform in front of the wall is very important because
bad surface drainage would cause soaking and softening of the soil in front of the wall and
reduces the passive resistance supporting the wall.

6. If prestressed ground anchors are being used as support for the retaining wall, prestressing
and locking off of anchors should be carefully carried out at the site. Overstressing of the
anchors or locking off the anchors at loads higher than predetermined design values can
sometimes cause increase in the anchor load and even to failure. On the other hand, the
wall would experience larger movements if the anchors are understressed.

7. Special care in sealing the anchor holes for temporary ground anchors during construction
and after construction is very important to prevent further lowering of the ground water level
on the retained ground.

8. The drilling technique of ground anchors proposed by the Contractor in the method
statement should also be reviewed by the Consultant. For loose soil that is sensitve to loss
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of materials through the anchor holes, double acting drilling method with temporary casing
should be used.

9. If internal struts are used, the connections between the waler beam and struts should be in
full contact and ensure that the required prestress are applied when specified to reduce wall
movement.



4.0 CASE HISTORY

Complaints of cracks on walls and some beams on some old shophouses were reported to a local
authority. The number of complaints reported increased with time and within a few months, some
344 shophouses were reported to have suffered damages of various severity.

Some of these shophouses had to be propped up to prevent mishap. Figure 18 shows some of
the damages. In addition to the cracks, ground settlements were observed, particularly on the
non-suspended slab around the new high-rise building as shown in Figure 19. The main activities
near the vicinity of the shophouses were the basement excavation and piling work for two
proposed commercial complexes. The affected shophouses were within 300m from the edge of
the basement excavation.

Project A is a proposed shopping mall with two levels of basement parking and to be supported on
450mm diameter spun piles. The piles along the perimeter of the site had been driven and
temporary cofferdam using 15m sheetpile wall supported by internal struts had been completed.
Figure 20 shows a typical section of the temporary sheetpile wall during the complaints. The plan
area involved was approximately 20,000m
2
. The general depth of excavation was 7m although at
locations of lift pits the excavation has gone down to about 10m. Some 40% of the plan area have
reached 7m below ground level. After the stop work order was issued by the local authority, water
level in the excavation pit increased to about 4m below ground level.

Project B is a proposed 5-storey shop building with two levels of basement and to be founded on
spun piles. The spun piles and 15m to 21m of temporary sheetpiles with internal struts had been
completed. However, only about 800m
2
of the total of about, 3,500m
2
have been excavated and
reached 9m below ground level. At the time of the stop work order, the basement was ready for
casting of pilecaps and basement slab.

Majority of the complaints was near the Project A and this paper will mainly present the
investigation around Project A.
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4.1 INVESTIGATION AND FINDINGS

The proposed projects lie within the Quaternary deposits of marine clays. The site is within the old
river which has been reclaimed. The boreholes carried out at Project A show that the interbedded
layers silty sand in the marine clay as depicted in Figure 21.

During the investigation, 26 number of boreholes were drilled outside of the two proposed projects
with the objectives of mapping the subsoil profile, water profile and soil properties within the
proposed project sites. Piezometers were installed in most of the boreholes to monitor the water
profile almost perpendicular to the edge of the excavation. Settlement profiles along the lines were
also measured. In addition, some 306 houses were monitored for the activities of the cracks using
tell-tale glass and crack gauge.

The results of the original ground investigation indicate the present of sand layers within the
marine clay especially near the toe of the sheetpiles, where a layer of sand of about 7m thick
present. The surface water profile during the investigation as indicated by Figure 22 indicates the
groundwater on the retending side has dropped significantly especially near the excavation
indicating seepage through the sheetpile wall. The seapage continued and resulted in the profile
shown in Figure 20. Every drop of a metre of groundwater would increase the effective
overburden pressure by 10kPa which is equivalent to about half a metre of compacted earthfill. As
the drop of water level reduces with distance away from the excavation, the increase in effective
overburden also reduces respectively. The increase in effective overburden pressure induces
immediate settlement to cohesionless soil and consolidation settlement to cohesive soil. It was the
differential settlement or distortion that caused the formation of new cracks and widened with time.

The remedial proposal for Project A was carried by installing an additional row of sheetpiles of
about 30m penetrating into the relatively impermeable clayey soil underlying the sandy soils
together with recharging well and these had effectively restored the water table to its original level.
Resumption of further basement excavation was only granted after the monitoring confirmed the
effectiveness of the remedial measures. Similar trend of the drop in water level was observed at
Project B where the water level near the excavation has dropped by 5.3 m.

The remedial proposal included the casting of its basement for the excavated portion to prevent
further seepage and recharging wells were also introduced to expedite the recovery of the water
level. The investigation also found that more reports of cracks were received from shophouses on
or near the old Prangin River or its tributaries and swamps which had been reclaimed more than
100 years ago as shown in Figure 23.


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Design and Construction Considerations for Deep Excavation
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5.0 CONCLUSION

The success of the design and construction of a deep excavation begins from well planned and
closely supervised subsurface investigation works including field and laboratory testing. The
design of retaining wall and support system should follow the appropriate standards, guidelines,
and good practices. Intimate input from design engineer at every stage of the construction starting
from setting out and establishing monitoring instruments before any excavation is essential. The
construction should also follows the approved method statement and have a checklist on
supervision to prevent mistakes or carelessness in the execution of works especially those
highlighted in this paper.

Quality assurance system should be implemented to ensure design and construction are carried
out systematically with the necessary checklists. Due care and diligence with full conscience from
the design and supervision teams are imperative to ensure success of engineering works in
particular for deep excavation which is risky not only to the work but also to adjacent structures.




ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

The authors acknowledge and thank the staff of SSP Geotechnics Sdn Bhd, particularly Ms.
Barbara Ng for the many series of word processing and preparation of figures and tables from the
drafts to the final paper.



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By: S.S. Gue & Y.C. Tan September, 1998
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Design and Construction Considerations for Deep Excavation
By: S.S. Gue & Y.C. Tan September, 1998
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Design and Construction Considerations for Deep Excavation
By: S.S. Gue & Y.C. Tan September, 1998
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Design and Construction Considerations for Deep Excavation
By: S.S. Gue & Y.C. Tan September, 1998
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Design and Construction Considerations for Deep Excavation
By: S.S. Gue & Y.C. Tan September, 1998
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Design and Construction Considerations for Deep Excavation
By: S.S. Gue & Y.C. Tan September, 1998
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Design and Construction Considerations for Deep Excavation
By: S.S. Gue & Y.C. Tan September, 1998
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Design and Construction Considerations for Deep Excavation
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Design and Construction Considerations for Deep Excavation
By: S.S. Gue & Y.C. Tan September, 1998
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Design and Construction Considerations for Deep Excavation
By: S.S. Gue & Y.C. Tan September, 1998
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Design and Construction Considerations for Deep Excavation
By: S.S. Gue & Y.C. Tan September, 1998
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Design and Construction Considerations for Deep Excavation
By: S.S. Gue & Y.C. Tan September, 1998
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SSP Geotechnics Sdn Bhd
Design and Construction Considerations for Deep Excavation
By: S.S. Gue & Y.C. Tan September, 1998
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Design and Construction Considerations for Deep Excavation
By: S.S. Gue & Y.C. Tan September, 1998
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SSP Geotechnics Sdn Bhd
Design and Construction Considerations for Deep Excavation
By: S.S. Gue & Y.C. Tan September, 1998
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Design and Construction Considerations for Deep Excavation
By: S.S. Gue & Y.C. Tan September, 1998
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Design and Construction Considerations for Deep Excavation
By: S.S. Gue & Y.C. Tan September, 1998
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Design and Construction Considerations for Deep Excavation
By: S.S. Gue & Y.C. Tan September, 1998
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SSP Geotechnics Sdn Bhd
Design and Construction Considerations for Deep Excavation
By: S.S. Gue & Y.C. Tan September, 1998
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Design and Construction Considerations for Deep Excavation
By: S.S. Gue & Y.C. Tan September, 1998
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Design and Construction Considerations for Deep Excavation
By: S.S. Gue & Y.C. Tan September, 1998
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Design and Construction Considerations for Deep Excavation
By: S.S. Gue & Y.C. Tan September, 1998
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Design and Construction Considerations for Deep Excavation
By: S.S. Gue & Y.C. Tan September, 1998
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Design and Construction Considerations for Deep Excavation
By: S.S. Gue & Y.C. Tan September, 1998
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Design and Construction Considerations for Deep Excavation
By: S.S. Gue & Y.C. Tan September, 1998
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